Column: A cup is a cup; Happy Holidays!

Graham Place

Halloween is over, which means it’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. Stores are putting up their Christmas decorations far too early, advertisements for holiday sales are filling mailboxes and inboxes, and Starbucks has transitioned to its seasonal Christmas cups.

Or have they?

According to many Christians on social media, Starbucks failed to do the latter. With no Christmas tree, no Santa and no religious symbols on their cups, it has become apparent that the company “hates Jesus,” to use the words of Joshua Feuerstein, the Arizona Facebook-evangelist leading the charge against the coffee behemoth.

This year, Starbucks chose a minimalist red gradient for its seasonal cups, accented by its traditional green logo.

Red and green cups? That’s not Christmas! That’s … Christmas.

Why do we all care so much about a simple coffee cup? The cups are ubiquitous in our lives. They are in our hands, on our desks and in our cars and have thus become the battleground of the fight over religious expression in public spaces.

I care about these cups and these conversations because I believe they are a necessary step in creating an America where religious freedom means that anyone can feel comfortable being open about their faith or lack thereof.

Christianity is so widespread in our nation that we accept its rule and allow it to dominate our culture. Christmas is the assumed holiday of choice. Our coins and dollars say “In God We Trust,” we’re at 44-for-44 Christian presidents, and we pledge allegiance to the flag of “one nation under God.”

I admit, these examples feel like the same tired cliches you hear from everyone in favor of a more secular government and nation. But they became tired cliches for a reason. Those of us who aren’t a part of the Christian majority are tired of living in a country where it is assumed we are in fact a part of it.

So to Starbucks: Thank you. I appreciate that you’ve made a conscious effort to not exclude any of your customers who may not be a part of a particular faith. It is a small but nonetheless significant gesture in a country that assumes I must be a part of the Christian majority.

And to Feuerstein: Please take a step back, maybe cut back on the caffeine a bit and think about how you’re focusing your energy. If the design of a coffee cup is in any way hindering your ability to practice your faith, I think you need to re-evaluate some of your beliefs.

People of all faiths should be comfortable as they go about their day working at their jobs, spending time at home and, of course, buying their coffee. If that means lessening the extent to which we cater to the Christian majority, then so be it. And if you are a part of that group, please recognize that no one is taking your faith away from you; we are simply asking that it not be forced onto us.

So you can have your faith, and I’ll have a Peppermint Mocha, hold the religion.


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